§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research his Department is sponsoring on the potential of crops to replace the use of wood or fossil fuels in producing materials such as paint, plastics and paper; and if he will make a statement.
Over recent years the Department has provided funds to the Agricultural and Food Research Council, through the science budget, to carry out research in molecular biology. This has led to the development of genetic engineering techniques for plants, and, in particular, gene insertion. This biotechnology can now be used to develop crops for specific industrial uses. My right hon. Friend's recent allocation of increased science budget funds to the AFRC will further support the research base in genetic engineering for such purposes. Some of this funding will be used to establish a Government-funded LINK programme of co-ordinated research on crops for industrial use involving AFRC, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, the Department of Trade and industry, the Science and Engineering Research Council and several universities and industrial companies. Depending on the companies involved, the programme will be concerned with fibre production for paper pulp and construction materials, oil production for paints, plastics and lubricants and with the production of high value pharmaceuticals.